Today, more and more couples are deciding to move in together before marriage or even without any plans to marry at all. As you and your partner decide to take this significant step in your relationship, the question might arise: should you make a cohabitation agreement with your partner? In this guide, you’ll learn why this agreement is essential and how to create one for you and your partner that reflects both of your wishes.
Why Is a Cohabitation Agreement Important?
A cohabitation agreement is a legally binding contract between two parties who live together but aren’t married. It outlines each partner’s rights and responsibilities with respect to their shared property and finances. A well-drafted cohabitation agreement can help alleviate any miscommunications or potential disputes in the future.
Financial Clarity and Protection
One of the primary reasons couples choose to create a cohabitation agreement is for financial clarity and protection. Within the agreement, you can clearly state how you will divide expenses, who will be responsible for what, and how you will manage assets and debts during—and potentially after—your relationship.
For example, who gets the house when an unmarried couple separates? By addressing this question in the agreement, you eliminate potential arguments and expensive legal battles down the line.
Supporting Parenting Agreements
If you and your partner have children together, a cohabitation agreement can provide guidance on custody arrangements and financial support for the children. The agreement can also address issues like inheritance rights and how to handle joint assets, such as property, in the event of a separation.
Legal Protection in the Absence of Marriage Laws
Another crucial reason for drafting a cohabitation agreement is that unmarried couples don’t have the same legal rights as married ones. For example, if one partner dies without a will, the surviving partner might not have a legal claim to their shared property. A cohabitation agreement can help circumvent this issue by explicitly outlining each partner’s rights and responsibilities.
How To Create a Cohabitation Agreement
Consult With a Lawyer
The first step in creating a cohabitation agreement is to consult with a lawyer. A lawyer will help both partners understand the legal implications of their agreement and ensure that it is legally binding and enforceable in the event of a dispute.
Draft the Agreement
Once you and your partner have discussed your wishes and concerns with a lawyer, it’s time to draft the agreement. The document should include sections for property division, financial responsibilities, inheritance rights, and other important topics pertaining to your relationship.
Review and Sign the Agreement
After both parties have reviewed the drafted agreement, you must sign it in front of a notary public or a lawyer. This ensures that both partners willingly agree to the terms and conditions in the document.
Moving in with your partner is an important decision that impacts several aspects of your life. You should make a cohabitation agreement with your partner to protect both yourself and them from potential disputes or uncertainties. While it may not be everyone’s favored course of action, it is valuable in managing expectations, responsibilities, and rights in an unmarried partnership.